Trump calls on Saudis to lift Yemen blockade ‘immediately’
President Trump on Wednesday said he’s directed his administration to push Saudi Arabia to completely lift its blockade on war-torn Yemen.
“I have directed officials in my administration to call the leadership of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to request that they completely allow food, fuel, water and medicine to reach the Yemeni people who desperately need it,” Trump said in a brief statement Wednesday. “This must be done for humanitarian reasons immediately.”
Last month, Saudi Arabia ramped up its blockade on Yemen after Houthi rebels fired a missile on the Saudi capital of Riyadh.
Under international pressure, Saudi Arabia partially lifted the blockade, and the first aid shipments since the blockade arrived last week.
But humanitarian groups say the Saudis’ actions are still preventing much needed food, fuel and medicine from getting into a country that was already on the brink of famine and suffering from the worst outbreak of cholera in modern history.
Yemen has been embroiled in civil war since early 2015 when Houthi rebels took over the capital of Sanaa and President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi fled to the southern city of Aden. Saudi Arabia, concerned about Iran’s support of the Houthis in a neighboring country, formed a coalition and intervened in support of Hadi.
This week, the conflict entered an uncertain new phase when the Houthi rebels killed their one-time ally, former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Following Saleh’s death, the Saudi-led coalition was reported to have blitzed Sanaa with an intensified campaign of airstrikes.
U.S. support for the Saudi-led campaign includes selling the Saudis weapons, providing limited intelligence and helping with logistics such as air refueling.
As of November, 5,295 civilians have been killed and another 8,873 injured in the war, according to the United Nations.
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